Today the City Council voted to landmark the John Marcellus Stewart Cottage, an 1871 farmhouse right by the 110 Freeway in University Park. The Folk Victorian-style cottage was built by nursery owner JM Stewart and is one of "only a handful of identified, extant wood-framed residences dating from the years just after the Civil War and before the transcontinental railroad linked Los Angeles directly with the rest of America, in 1876." Back then, the area was basically rural (nearby USC wasn't established until 1880): the house "was reported in its era as being the 'first' residence built south of Sixth Street in the "southern reaches of the city," according to its nomination (pdf) for historic-cultural monument status. Stewart ploughed under the vineyards that had been on the 17 acres surrounding the house and "turned the soil over to the development of a nursery supplying orchard and decorative plants to other Angelenos" (he became famed for his fruit and pepper trees, among other things).
The Stewart Cottage "is a vernacular Folk Victorian style rural farmhouse, with elements that are evocative of both Carpenter Gothic and the later Eastlake style"--it has a steep gabled roof (with a front gable that "rises to a distinctive peak"), a six-foot-wide wraparound entry porch, decorative gable bracketing with a carved leaf pattern, and "simple square porch columns with hand cut capitals and brackets." While at the time it was a pretty commonplace "owner-built country farmhouse cottage," it's now become the last of a breed. A few changes have been made over the years (small "shed-style" additions, a concrete stairway) and in 2010, asbestos siding was removed "revealing original wood siding."
Contemporary reports say Stewart put up several buildings on the property, "which no doubt would have included a barn, an outhouse and a detached kitchen"--since the LAFD didn't yet serve the "southern reaches" of the city, kitchens were often built outside the main house. Eventually, the family built a larger Victorian mansion on the property, facing Thirtieth Street (that one has been demolished).
Meanwhile, the Stewart Cottage is vacant and boarded-up and its lot has mostly been cleared; it's owned by something called 31st & Fig Development. An old Loopnet listing offers the house (and another) for free to anyone who will move them. The Cultural Heritage Commission's report on the house notes that the "building can be moved to a new location and that later additions from an unknown date on the back and side elevations can be removed."
· 511 West 31st Street / Stewart Farmhouse / Historic-Cultural Monument [LA City Clerk]